Highlights: Rio 2 (FOX) has $63.4M weekend, lands $12.6M in China debut; Captain America: The Winter Soldier (DIS) crosses $300M international; Noah (PAR) adds $36.2M; Divergent (LGF/SUM/var) nears $50M; Spanish Affairs (UNI) has 5th No. 1 weekend in Spain…
4th UPDATE, 7:15 PM, PST: The final Divergent numbers are in, with the film nearing $50M but not yet crossing it; it stands at $48.1M. The film is based on the YA novel of the same name (part of a trilogy) and Lionsgate is hoping it will become another big franchise. This is the same company that launched the wildly successful Hunger Games series. Divergent is at $124.7M in the U.S. after the 3-day weekend for a worldwide gross of $172.8M+.
3rd UPDATE, Monday, 1:52 PM, PST: New grosses are in for Rio 2, The Grand Budapest Hotel, 300: Rise Of An Empire, The Lego Movie, Spanish Affairs and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Rio 2 did better than previously expected internationally over the weekend, with a total tally of $63.4M to date; the worldwide cume on the animated family picture is over $100M.
2ND UPDATE, MONDAY 12:45 AM PT: Last weekend, Captain America: … Read More »
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts today denied allegations in a lawsuit filed by families of children with developmental disorders that the company has caused them suffering and violated the American With Disabilities Act. The 57-count complaint (read it here), filed last week, seeks damages, injunctive relief, and declaratory relief for violations of the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. ”Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests,” a Disney Parks and Resorts spokesperson said today. “We fully comply with all ADA requirements and believe that the legal claims are without merit.” The scathing legal action filed by 16 children and young adults with autism and other developmental disorders and their guardians and parents contends that Disney’s recently implemented Disability Access Service violates federal and state law and is completely unsuited to the needs of individuals with such special needs. Disney disagrees. “Our Disability Access Service is designed for guests who, due to certain disabilities, cannot tolerate extended wait times at attractions. In circumstances where the service might not meet guests needs, we work individually with guests to ensure we are able to accommodate them,” said the company in a statement.
The 176-page complaint also alleges that, at the same time Disney moved to the DAS system last October, the Parks and Resorts division created a secret ”Magic List” program that could actually help solve a lot of … Read More »
The local TV networks went into quake mode tonight — but not immediately. KCBS, KNBC and KABC continued with their regular 9 PM programming after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck the Southland at 9:09 PM. KCAL 9 did go live with news within about 15 minutes, and one of its co-anchors was Kent Shockneck — who famously doing a live newscast on KNBC when the 5.9 1987 Whittier Narrows quake struck and promptly got under his newsdesk. (Relive video of that incident below). Interestingly, tonight’s temblor occurred on same thrust fault that caused the ’87 quake, according to preliminary data. For their part, the three network O&Os went to their news teams by 10 PM — pre-empting The Insider on CBS, Hannibal on NBC and 20/20 on ABC. Fox 11 went with its regular 10 PM newscast.
This was the second small-to-moderate earthquake to strike the Greater Los Angeles area in less than two weeks. Disneyland shut down its rides after the main quake, which was followed by a series of more than a half-dozen aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 2.6 to 3.6. This is standard protocol for the Anaheim theme park, which is less than 10 miles from La Habra, the epicenter of the main temblor. Disneyland typically cycles through its attraction after a quake hits then inspects them after parkgoers have disembarked. … Read More »
Something didn’t smell right today at the happiest place on Earth. A strange odor at Disneyland saw four theme park cast members taken to local hospitals earlier Friday, according to the Anaheim Fire Department. The first responders arrived on the scene this afternoon after the employees complained of nausea. Turned out that paint odors were the culprit. The painting was in a backstage location on the theme park property and wasn’t anywhere near visitors, I’ve learned. “The 4 employees were transported for precautionary measures,” tweeted Anaheim Fire Rescue. The incident did not cause any other disruption at Disneyland and the theme park never closed. To that end, Disneyland will be staying open for business as usual today.
UPDATE, WRITETHRU 8:05 AM PT: DreamWorks Animation and partners held a kick-off ceremony in Shanghai earlier today to unveil the master design plan for their DreamCenter entertainment complex. The $2.4B “lifestyle destination” is due to begin construction this year and open in 2017. On the ground were DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, China Media Capital chairman Ruigang Li; chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong Group, Allan Zeman; and reps of CDB Capital. The “Dreams Come True” celebration presented further details and new artists renderings of the 463,000 square meter complex (continued below):
Waterfront Cultural Plaza
Among the attractions will be a 500-seat IMAX movie theater to accomodate international film festivals and red carpet events (pic below). Bars, restaurants and performance venues are part of the designs and there will be a “Dream Avenue” theater district fashioned after Broadway and the West End in London. DreamCenter will also house the headquarters of Oriental DreamWorks, the joint venture between DWA, CMC and other local partners who are cooperating on the production of Kung Fu Panda 3. Katzenberg offered, “As the home base for Oriental DreamWorks Studio for the creation of top-quality family entertainment, DreamCenter is the place where great entertainment is not only displayed, but also where it is created.” The DreamCenter project was originally announced in 2012 for projected completion in 2016. It’s one of two major studio efforts in Shanghai. … Read More »
Her, Gravity and The Great Gatsby were the big winners on the film side at tonight’s ADG Awards at the Beverly Hilton. “I didn’t know if we were making a fantasy or a period film in the future,” Her production designer K.K. Barrett in accepting the award. “Spike Jonze told me, ‘Who are we to question what anybody else feels is real.’” Looking around the room, I believe in all your realities.”
Related: WGA Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ & ‘Her’ Win Top Film Awards
Said production designer Andy Nicholson from the podium: “Gravity was an incredibly long and tough journey for my crew. None of this would’ve been possible without the artistic vision of Alfonso Cuaron.”
Martin Scorsese scored points in the room as he accepted the guild’s prestigious Cinematic Imagery Award, presented by his Wolf Of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. “How does one even separate cinema from PD? You can’t,” he said. “We have images in our mind, pictures in our head, but yours are the ones I look to to get those images on the screen. You’ve never let me down. This [award] is for you.”
HBO cleaned up on the TV side, with Game Of Thrones, Behind The Candelabra and Veep all picking up trophies during the 18th annual Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design Awards. The show was hosted by Owen Benjamin, a comic and regular on the TBS comedy Sullivan & Son.
Here is the complete list of winners. Read on for the recap of our live blog.
Related: ‘Phillips’ IS The Captain Now As It Defies ‘Gravity’ At The ACE Eddie Awards To Win Second Guild Honor In A Row
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While Hollywood continues figuring out how to do business in China, and execs remain cautious, there is a sense that 2013 was a tipping point in the complex relationship between the world’s two box office leaders. As Hollywood’s focus turns to maximizing global grosses, the town is increasingly looking for ways to cozy up to the territory that adds 10 theaters a day to service its 1.3B+ population. And China is also strongly courting Hollywood. In September, Wanda’s Wang Jianlin unveiled ambitious plans to bring the industry closer to the Mainland and emphasized China’s place at the center of the global biz, urging players to cooperate for a piece of the pie. Then, at November’s U.S./China Film Summit in L.A., China Film Co-Production Company’s Zhang Xun offered, “We have a huge market and we want to share it with you.” Here’s a look at some of the key happenings in China in 2013 and a taste of what to look out for in the coming year:
Related: China’s Wanda & Hollywood: How Much Is Real? How Much Is Real Estate?
China Box Office Hits $3B+: Hollywood Improves While Local Films Dominate; What Does End Of 2013 Hold In Store?
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Walt Disney’s only biological child died today at her home in Napa, CA, of complications from a fall in September. Diane Disney Miller was 79. She was a driving force behind the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A. Her husband of nearly 60 years, Ron W. Miller, is a former CEO of Walt Disney Productions. Here’s a statement on her passing from Disney president and CEO Bob Iger: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Diane Disney Miller and our thoughts are with her family during his difficult time. As the beloved daughter of Walt Disney and one of his inspirations for creating Disneyland, she holds a special place in the history of The Walt Disney Company and in the hearts of fans everywhere. She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father’s legacy, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”
The basic numbers look fine but investors may find reasons to be concerned by Disney‘s unusually complicated report for a quarter that included a writedown for The Lone Ranger and an accounting adjustment that reduced ESPN revenues. The company reported net income of $1.54B, +11.0% vs the period last year, on revenue of $11.57B, +7.3%. The top line beat the Street’s forecast for $11.4B. Earnings at 77 cents a share were a penny ahead of expectations. The company’s cable networks reported a 1% increase in revenues to $3.57B with operating income -7% to $1.28B. But that includes a $172M reduction in deferred ESPN affiliate fee revenues. Take that out, and operating income would have been up $77M, the company says. At ABC broadcasting revenues were +2% to $1.37B with operating income -18% to $158M. The problems included higher costs for primetime programming as the company replaced news and reality fare with scripted shows. In addition it had tough comparisons with last year when ABC syndicated Castle and Wipeout and broadcast the Emmy Awards. Disney’s theme parks had cheerier news with revenues +8% to $$3.72B and operating income +15% to $571M. Consumer spending was up at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, but costs were up with the introduction of the MyMagic+ technology which helps guests avoid long lines. At the studio, revenues were +7% to $1.51B with operating income +35% to $108M helped by Monsters University — … Read More »
Shanghai’s financial district may soon be better known as the city’s entertainment hub. Robert De Niro and his partners are working on a massive cultural development there while Bruno Wu’s Pinewood Chinawood studio base is also due to be housed in the waterfront Bund area. Today, The Walt Disney Company China said it will open “the world’s largest Disney Store” in Lujiazui, part of the financial district on the east side of Huangpu River in the Pudong area. The store itself will be a 10,800-square-foot space housed on a 53,000 square-foot site that will also host family entertainment events. Disney is building its first mainland China theme park, Shanghai Disneyland, as the the centerpiece of its Shanghai Disney Resort which is targeted to open in Pudong at the end of 2015. Disney said today that the store, which is to open in early 2015, will be “an important site where fans can track the progress of Shanghai Disney Resort.”
Related: Iron Man To The Rescue At Hong Kong Disneyland
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The View is heading to the Magical Kingdom for the November sweep, in hopes of widening its lead over CBS’ The Talk. Mickey Mouse himself made the announcement this morning on The View which is a program of Disney-owned ABC. It’s the first time The View has had to go to Disneyland – the place ABC shows go to goose their ratings. The daytime talker will broadcast live from Disneyland to coincide with Mickey Mouse’s 85th birthday on November 18. ABC’s late night star Jimmy Kimmel, who’s been getting lots of attention these days as he ratchets up to take on new Tonight show competition this season, with fake YouTube Failed-Twerk videos, verbal brawls/hug-it-outs with Kanye West, etc , will be the lead guest of The Ladies of The View for that Disneyland week, appearing on Mickey’s birthday. Read More »
Hong Kong Disneyland’s ticket counter hasn’t exactly been the happiest place on Earth since the park opened in 2005. But Disney is reaching into its $4B bag of Marvel tricks in an effort to juice attendance: An Iron Man-themed thrill ride, shopping area and photo pavilion will open at HK Dis –which turned it meager first profit this year — in late 2016, The New York Times reports. Inspired by the $121M success of Iron Man 3 in China this year, it will be Disney’s first ride based on a Marvel property since it acquired the company in 2009. “It’s important for us to have a story for our Hong Kong guests, a little bit of bragging rights that they have something that nobody else has,” said Bill Ernest, the president of Disney’s theme parks in Asia, told the Times. The attraction will arrive more than a year after the planned opening of Disney’s multibillion-dollar park in Shanghai, its first on the Chinese mainland, and the company is counting on both parks thriving to achieve its corporate goals in the country.
Related: Iger: Behind-The-Scenes Of Disney In China
Controversy put Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow on the radar at Sundance, where critics predicted that the fictional drama filmed without permission at Disney World would have to get past a courtroom before it reached theaters. As Escape nears its October multi-platform release, it has been deafening silence from Disney; not even Jiminy Cricket is chirping. That is the worst thing that could happen to a film where the venue is the only recognizable thing in a feature made on the cheap with no stars. Escape earned early notoriety for its subversive shoot after the filmmakers got The New York Times to flog a brewing David Vs. Goliath battle at Sundance. Turns out that newspaper was simply slinging hype and reflecting wishful thinking from the film’s backers. Disney doesn’t seem to care and the film is left to fly or die by its merits. At this weekend’s genre-heavy Fantastic Fest, where movie geeks gobble up subversive films, the pic screened with a whimper.
Related: ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ Gets Fall Release
Cinetic sales rep John Sloss, whose Producers Distribution Agency is releasing the picture after it went unbought at Sundance, tells me some interested buyers were wary of crossing Disney when the film first screened. Sloss said he had offers, but Deadline has heard they were smallish and that Disney’s ire wasn’t the big factor. Getting a rise out of a corporation can be the best thing that can happen to a small film; earlier this year, the documentary Blackfish got on the map after its subject, Sea World, publicly griped about the characterization of multiple deaths involving its killer whales. Disney hasn’t made a peep, robbing Escape From Tomorrow of a lot of free publicity. Read More »
Disney shares just shot up close to 3% after CFO Jay Rasulo announced the plan at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. “We intend to significantly increase our buyback next year probably in the $6B-to-$8B range,” he says. The company can do that without jeopardizing its single A bond rating, Rasulo adds, although it might have to borrow some cash toward the end of its share repurchase. The company can spend because, following big investments in its theme parks and programming, “we’ll see an increase in cash flow.” The announcement follows a four-month period when Disney shares have been in a holding pattern. The price hit an all-time high of $67.89 in mid-May, and have slipped nearly 6% since then. ”Investors have been concerned about ESPN’s weak ratings (down 32% in Q2) in light of a period of stasis in both affiliate fees and sports rights,” Macquarie analyst Tim Nollen noted in a report yesterday. Rasulo says that ESPN and other properties are still strong, and can grow. Following the announced plan to write down as much as $190M for The Lone Ranger, Disney has “learned that there needs to be a cap on tent pole, non-franchise (spending) that doesn’t quite put as much as risk,” he says. The studio has “found our stride in a slate that looks like two Marvel films a year, Star Wars, one Disney animation, one or two … Read More »
Randy Moore’s buzzy Sundance thriller was shot in secret in Disney parks with a distinctly non-Disneyfied tale of dread and paranoia in the happiest place on Earth. The distribution trifecta of Producers Distribution Agency (PDA), Abramorama, and FilmBuff will release Escape From Tomorrow in theaters on October 11 as well as on VOD and digital platforms, although nobody’s yet talking about how the pic’s skirting Disney’s legal muscle. Check out the first trailer:
Related: Film Shot Secretly At Disneyland Gets Fall Release
The man who put the Rolling Stones back on the road and Spider-Man on Broadway is now going to bring Marvel’s costumed characters to life in a town near you. In a partnership between Marvel and live entertainment producer Hero Ventures, former Live Nation chairman and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark producer Michael Cohl will produce the Marvel Experience. Described as a “first-person superhero adventure” and set to debut next year, the $30 million themed production will feature dozens of Marvel characters combined with multimedia technology, original 3D animated movies and a 4D motion ride, all in a traveling dome complex the size of two football fields. The plan is to bring the Marvel Experience to two dozen cities around the US in 2014 with weeklong stays in each. “Hero Ventures is developing a themed entertainment concept that we expect will be a transformative, traveling destination that will deliver to fans and families an exciting, groundbreaking and unique experience,” said Sean Haran, Marvel’s VP Business Development, in a statement Wednesday. Spider-Man co-producer and veteran stage and touring Jeremiah Harris also will produce the Experience along and Hero Ventures’ Jason Rosen a former Sony Pictures exec. Hero Ventures was founded in June 2012 by former Gersh player agent Doug Schaer and sports lawyer Rick Licht.
Related: Vin Diesel In Talks To Join ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’
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Distribution prospects looked dire for Randy Moore’s Sundance sensation Escape From Tomorrow, the provocative film shot guerrilla style at Disneyland and Disney World depicting one man’s descent into madness in the happiest place on Earth. But Producers Distribution Agency (PDA) announced today they’ll release the film this fall in theaters and on VOD in partnership with Abramorama and FilmBuff. The film follows a middle-aged American husband and father of two who loses his job, but keeps up appearances as he takes his brood on vacation. There he becomes obsessed with a pair of French teenage girls as paranoid visions and bizarre encounters mark the unraveling of his idyllic family outing. Disney had no part in the film and did not give Moore or his crew consent to film in its parks. Yet iconic Disney amusements like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, a Main Street parade and Epcot Center figure into the narrative, sparking media debate over whether or not the film would ever see the light of day. Read More »
Anthony D’Alessandro contributes to Deadline’s D23 coverage.
Disney’s live action panel today at D23 started off with Alan Horn being heckled by disappointed Star Wars fans and pretty much turned into a clipfest afterwards. Only a surprise appearance by Maleficent star Angelina Jolie at the Anaheim event raised the temperature anywhere near Friday’s news filled Animation panel. The newest jewel in Disney’s crown, Star Wars was dealt with by the studio boss with a list of old announcements of approximate release dates, JJ Abrams being on board and spinoff films. “I really wish I could tell you more. It will come soon,” Horn told the crowd as a big “awww” and boos emanated from around the convention center from fans expecting a bone to be thrown their way today.
Related: D23: Disney Announces New Animated Movies and Big Voice Castings, Offers Details On ‘Finding Nemo’ & ‘Planes’ Sequels
That was in sharp contrast to Jolie’s sudden walk-on later in the two-hour panel. Then it was cheers not jeers. “Since I was a little girl, I was drawn to her. But I was also terrified by her, but she had this elegance and grace,” said Jolie about playing in the upcoming backstory to the Sleeping Beauty character. “When I heard Disney was making the film, my brother encouraged me to take the role.” Jolie’s appearance in front of the audience of 7,500, came after Walt Disney live action production head Sean Bailey spoke about casting her for Maleficent. “You can pencil out a list of all the amazing actresses in the world and for us this list only had one name for the role, Angelina Jolie,” exclaimed Bailey over as sketches from the film played on the big screen. After Jolie’s brief turn on stage, Bailey showed the audience exclusive footage from Maleficent. In the clip, Jolie’s British-accented wicked Queen appeared amidst CGI fairies and green steam rising to curse the baby Sleeping Beauty. “Without a doubt, Maleficent will be a powerful movie experience when it comes to theaters next summer,” Bailey told the crowd. Maleficent is set to be release on July 2, 2014.
Related: Comic-Con: Marvel Announces ‘Avengers 2’ Villain & Title: ‘Age Of Ultron’
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